Hip-hop has always been a breeding ground for genre-bending, thanks to its collaborative nature. While funk, pop, and jazz easily intertwine with rap, rock music has always been harder to integrate successfully. That’s not to discredit the storied past the two genres have shared, from the Beastie Boys’ seven platinum records to Linkin Park’s early rap-rock phase, but it also brings up memories of Limp Bizkit and Lil Wayne’s Rebirth. Unfortunately, Day of the Dead has more in common with the latter, even as it aspires towards the former.
Hollywood Undead is facing a midlife crisis. Having spent their first three albums attempting to strike a balance between their nu-metal and hip-hop aesthetic, they’ve settled on delivering a bit of both, but succeeding in neither. With Day of the Dead, the group continues the sound found in Notes from the Underground, a mix of alternative rock and nu-metal with rap sprinkled on top. There’s also a pop vibe that influences many of the tracks on the album, giving Day of the Dead dance sensibilities, even as it tackles dark themes.
Unfortunately, all of it comes together in a messy project that fails to inspire or challenge the listener. Many of the upbeat, pop-centric tracks fall flat from the get go. “I’ll Be There,” “Save Me” and “Party By Myself” have Hollywood Undead channeling their inner-3OH!3. Singing is definitely not their strong suit.
But it’s hard to find what is. The forgettable guitars and generic pop could’ve been redeemed if the raps had anything of substance. The album is chock full of lines like, “Undead until I die so when I die you know I’m livin’.” It only gets worse from there. The group teeters between dumb metaphors and faux high concept. Other groups like 3OH!3 get away with their silly style because they’re transparent about their silliness. Even with a rapper named Funny Man within their ranks, Hollywood Undead takes things far too seriously for anyone to take Day of the Dead seriously.